WE are now just over four months on from lockdown. This has been a challenging time for most of us, even those fortunate to be able to follow the rules and “stay safe” by staying at home. Can you imagine how lockdown would have been if you didn’t have a home?

Unfortunately that was the challenge facing thousands of people.

I am privileged to support the Simon Community Scotland, the country’s largest provider of homeless services. With the Covid-19 wave about to hit, we worked closely with our partners including the Scottish Government and local authorities in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Within 72 hours we had a plan to keep people safe and by Monday March 23, the day of the start of lockdown, we were already providing accommodation to those who needed it most. Over the last four months, together with our partners, staff and volunteers, we have helped over 2500 individuals as a result of this quick action. We are recognising these collaborative achievements through a social media campaign, #LockdownLegends.

Although not involved in the day to day, myself and other Board members have been working in the background to ensure all necessary resources were available to respond quickly and provide support where it was needed most.

Thanks to our dedicated staff, volunteers and partners, we were in a position to respond incredibly fast to reconfigure our responses and services to ensure that everyone was safe and people were supported when they needed it most. Thanks to good partnership working with the Scottish Government, local authorities, corporate donors, and individual donors, we embarked on an ambitious plan to create a safe place for everyone who needed it. Amazingly lockdown actually provided an opportunity for Simon Community Scotland to provide solutions for people facing homelessness to find safety, stability and recovery, often for the first time in years.

This is a tough time for all organisations, however Simon Community Scotland is looking to the future and building on the success of the past few months. Homelessness is a complex issue with no easy solutions, however lockdown has shown that access to secure housing is an essential ingredient, we need to think differently about how we tackle homelessness and to provide more housing for people on low incomes, giving secure living conditions at affordable rents.

But it is more than just providing a roof over someone’s head. Many of the people we support have experienced serious trauma in their lives, often over and over from an early age. This compounds their ability to cope and take the steps necessary to transform their lives. As a result of lockdown we know what works in terms of supporting people, including those who have struggled to make positive and consistent changes in the past. What they have achieved during lockdown with the right support has been remarkable. We now know what works. As we start to feel the economic impact of the pandemic, more people than ever will need our support.

A silver lining of lockdown is that many people were more able to accept our support, and importantly, able to find new ways to thrive. Good partnership working has shown that immediate access to a wide range of support is key in creating long term lasting change. As we head into the choppy waters post lockdown, let’s carry on with this model of close partnership working and immediate support to keep everyone safe in future.

Dan Donald, Board Member, Simon Community Scotland https://www.simonscotland.org/inspiring-stories/